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The Eastern Way: Fundamental # 5 – Be a detective


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The Eastern Way: Fundamental # 5 – Be a detective

Tania Gonzalez is vice president – Operations at Specialty Vehicle & Equipment Funding Group. She has been with Eastern Funding for 4 and half years, having transferred to Specialty Vehicle in September 2012. Tania began as a Credit Team Leader at Eastern Funding for her first 2 years until Eastern Funding opened its vehicle finance subsidiary. Given Tania’s 20 years of experience in commercial vehicle lending, it was a natural transition. Today, Tania manages the credit and documentation teams at Specialty Vehicle while working collectively with Eastern Funding’s credit committee and funding department to expedite and enrich the loan origination process.

Fundamental # 5 – Be a detective. There’s always more to the story than meets the eye. Be curious. Ask questions and understand the larger picture. When we know the full story, we can work faster and develop better solutions.

I’ve always been the curious type, and I believe asking a good question actually goes hand in hand with being a good listener. If you are listening well to a friend or a prospective customer, it should help you connect with them in a more meaningful way. Following up with good questions based on what you’ve heard helps make the person you are speaking to aware that you understand their needs and that you want to help. Remember… if you only ask questions you already know the answer to, then no one learns anything.

Sample questions that can improve communication and understanding of the customer’s needs:

  • What brings you to us or hopefully back to us?
  • What does your company do?
  • What is your business focusing on this year?
  • What are your business needs?
  • What’s been going on in your business?
  • Has anything changed?
  • What challenges are you facing?
  • How will this purchase impact your business?
  • We’ve noticed trends in the industry…how are these trends affecting your business?
  • What questions of yours haven’t I addressed?

In my experience, I’ve found that people love to talk about themselves and their business. It seems to open their minds and, to some degree, their egos. Then it’s up to us to listen and ask useful questions about what we observe. Hopefully, getting the answers we need, but leaving the other person feeling that we are building a positive relationship.

This fundamental is crucial to the credit process. Thorough credit due diligence is key to any Credit Manager reviewing a loan. Working in lending environments for the last 20 years has definitely sharpened my awareness of the red flags to look for in a potentially fraudulent transaction. However, having tools such as PayNet , Lexis Nexis, Google and improve our ability to make sound loans, as well.

Here at SVEG, we count on our Business Managers to know or get to know their customers and provide thorough and complete interview information, so that due diligence can be completed comprehensively. Information is power. In the end, the more facts and details you can gather, the better the Credit Manager can make more informed decisions, which improves turnaround time for all involved.

Thanks for taking the time to read this week’s fundamental.

Up next week is Jennifer Lujan with Fundamental # 6: Listen generously.